When union members demand decent pay levels and work conditions, they are charged with featherbedding and overmanning or the new neoliberal catchall, “demanding uncompetitive wages”. But when the upper crust loots institutions, the mainstream media is typically missing in action.
By Wolf Richter, San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Cross posted from Testosterone Pit.
The ominous term, “competitiveness” has been bandied about as the real issue, the one that causes European countries, in particular some of those stuck in the Eurozone, to sink ever deeper into their fiasco. To fix that issue, “structural reforms,” or austerity, have been invoked regardless of how much blood might stain the streets. And a core element of these structural reforms is bringing down the cost of labor. But productivity, infrastructure, transportation costs, corruption, training and education, etc. all figure prominently into this equation. Cost of labor is not the only factor.
One of the striking elements of the demonization of Cyprus was how it was depicted as a willing tool of Russian money launderers and oligarchs. But notice another implicit part of the story: that Russia’s oligarchs and “dirty money” are distinctive national creation. Do you ever hear Carlos Slim or Rupert Murdoch or the Koch Brothers described as oligarchs?
Corruption has now become so routine in Washington that improprieties far worse than Turbo Timmie’s implausible failure to pay taxes on income from his days working as a consultant to the World Bank barely evoke a yawn from the media. Apparently the fourth estate is either so bedazzled by star turns, like Michelle Obama presenting at the Oscars (!!!) or so cowed by the prospect of being cut off from information that it dutifully falls in line.
Citi is a particularly blatant example of a way of operating that has become endemic in American business: when things get tough, throw as many employees as possible under the bus, and use that to maintain or even increase the pay of the top echelon.
The French government has been flailing about to counter economic trends that started while Nicolas Sarkozy was still president. And one of the most bandied-about catchwords these days is “competitiveness”—entailing the cherished and untouchable 35-hour workweek, equally untouchable wages, and sky-high employer-paid payroll taxes and social security charges. An explosive mix.
By Michael Crimmins, who has worked on risk management and Sarbanes Oxley compliance for major banks
JP Morgan’s jawdropping revelations in its Friday earnings call don’t seem to be attracting the attention they deserve. The market may have shrugged off the size of the losses and the corporate governance modifications plans, but the announcement opens the door wide for the next phase of this scandal. The biggest question is whether Jamie Dimon should keep his job.
As much as I would have liked to have seen the Bob Diamond testimony before Parliament yesterday (a previously booked flight ruled that out), I should probably consider myself lucky. Comments by readers and tooth-gnashing reports from the British press indicate that Diamond is an apt student of the well honed CEO practice of shirking responsibility and shameless denials. Those strategies go a long way in stymieing efforts to get insight, at least in the setting of a legislative grilling. Some of it is the time constraints on each interviewer: they can only go so long before they have to turn the mike over to a colleague. I’d love to see a real prosecutor, with the luxury of time and the ability to do serious discovery before deposing executives, go after some of these fearless leaders.
The most theatrical moment of the day appears to have been when MP John Mann went full bore into Diamond.